Institutionalising community policing in Timor-Leste: police development in Asia's youngest country

Journal articles or issues
March 2014
Todd Wassel
As part of ODI’s Securing Communities project, which aims to understand different models of community policing around the world, this case study examines the development of community policing policy and practice in Timor-Leste. As with the Securing Communities project more broadly, the focus is on the diversity of objectives, approaches and methods of community policing, the ‘messy politics’ of its development and what this means for those who aim to support this policing model. This case study examines some key features of community policing policy development and practice in Timor-Leste.

Key findings include:

Community policing in Timor-Leste has developed from a combination of donor advocacy, existing customary practices and support within the PNTL.

It has been a long-term evolution that has only recently taken formal shape.

Community policing has been influenced by colonial experiences of policing, personalised politics, strong donor presence and widespread reliance on customary dispute resolution.

While community policing has only recently been formalised, early results indicate some improvement in community perceptions of police.